As the 2011 NPF Summer Season slowly approaches, the defending Cowles Cup Champions, USSSA Pride, has a lot to look forward to. With seven former Olympians on the roster, the Pride is expecting nothing less than the best for this upcoming season. Among those seven Olympians is infielder, Lauren Lappin. Hailing from Stanford University, Lappin racked up honors in college including two-time Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year (2005-2006). While with the National Team Lappin garnered honors in 2007 on the Gold Medalist team at the Pan American Games where she hit .400. She was also a part of the World Cup Champion team when she hit .375 and scored three runs. She was on the 2008 Silver Medalist Olympic team.
Last year marked Lappin’s debut in the NPF. In her first year with the USSSA Pride, Lappin was a spark plug behind the plate and at second base. She started in 36 of 57 games. Her most memorable moment came during the Championship Series when she came through in the clutch with a hit to left field that put the Pride ahead.
Lappin answered some questions for the NPF Fans regarding her softball experiences…
Q: What was it like to win an NPF Championship in 2010?
Lauren: Winning the 2010 NPF Championship was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. There were so many expectations for this team to dominate and we had serious struggles during the regular season. For our team to be able to put it all together at the right time and take home the Cowles Cup against such amazing competition was a hard fought success of which we are very proud.
Q: How did you start playing softball?
Lauren: I played baseball for three years before I started playing fastpitch when I was eight years old. I have been addicted ever since.
Q: What was it like to be apart of the first Back to School Tour?
Lauren: It was so much fun to take the field with such great players from around the league against some of the amazing young talent that will one day get chance to play in the NPF. Traveling to college towns and playing in beautiful stadiums is an experience that will never get old for me. Our NPF fans showed their loyalty and I am certain that we made thousands of new fans out of the avid supporters of the schools we visited.
Q: What was it like to be a member of the Pride in 2010?
Lauren: It was truly an honor to be a part of the Pride family in 2010. We had such an amazing group of woman who overcame struggles together and truly became a unit. Our coaching staff and USSSA could not have given us a better environment in which we could be successful and enjoy the process.
Q: What are you doing to stay in shape in preparation for the 2011 Season?
Lauren: I am so thrilled for the opportunity I have to play in the Japan Professional League. To experience another culture, enjoy our shared love for the sport AND be able train and compete at a high level for the 3 months before the NPF season will be challenging yet rewarding and I can't wait for it!
Q: What is the best advice you received as a pro?
Lauren: The best advice I have received is to just be me and play the game the same every day. There are so many amazing players in this league and I am humbled every day of the season. A consistent approach is the best way to help our team win.
Q: What are you looking forward to for the 2011 Season?
Lauren: I am so looking forward to spending everyday with my teammates and defending our Championship.
Q: Describe what it was like to step on the field for the first time as a professional player.
Lauren: Stepping on the field for the first time as a pro player was surreal. To be able to play the sport that I love beyond college is such a privilege. There are so many incredible woman that paved the way for us today and it is our responsibility to continue to grow the NPF so that many more softball players will get this opportunity in the future. I felt this responsibility during my first game as a professional and I continue to feel it everyday.
Q: Which athletes or coaches were your mentors or role models growing up?
Lauren: My older brother Archie was my hero growing up. He beat me in every sport we played in the front yard as kids. He played with so much passion and is an inspiration to the athlete I strive to be. My dad was my softball coach growing up. He shaped me physically, mentally and emotionally as a softball player and I so much of my development to him.
Q: What are your personal goals for the 2011 Season?
Lauren: My goals for the 2011 season are to play solid defense and contribute to our team offensively. Really to do everything my role asks of me and more to help contribute to our pursuit of back to back championships.